Only 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater; about two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps and we have long over-stretched this precious resource.



Water is the source of all life and
needs to be managed carefully


for people

+ 50 %

increase in global water demand by 2030

for nature

- 80%

decline in freshwater biodiversity since 1970

for security


of all natural disasters are water-related

How we engage

The mission of the IUCN Global Water Programme is to be a trusted partner for evidence-based and adaptive change in water resource management that benefits nature and people. We bring together our extensive network of IUCN Members, experts, government and private sector partners to develop sustainable solutions to manage water resources.

Our work focuses on water governance that integrates the needs of people and nature, the implementation of sustainable water resource management to secure water-related ecosystem services and conserve freshwater biodiversity, and support increased investment in ecosystems as natural water infrastructure. 


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  • In the spotlight:

    Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future

    21-29 October 2018

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 29 October 2018. The theme for COP13 is “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”.

    Read More

  • In the spotlight:

    Plastic from source to sea

    As plastic is discarded into our waterways, rivers become conveyor belts of plastic waste, transporting this toxic cargo into the world's estuaries, deltas and oceans.

    This new visual story takes the reader from source to sea highlighting the importance of good river basin management in helping to tackle the global marine plastic pollution challenge. 

    Share and follow us via @IUCN_Water and @MARPLASTICCs to #beatplasticpollution

  • In the spotlight:

    World Water Week 2018

    Water, ecosystems and human development is the theme of this year's World Water Week. The conference will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August.

    IUCN leads several sessions and co-organises events and seminars. For a full overview of IUCN's activities during World Water Week, please click the link.

    Follow us on Twitter via @IUCN_Water at #WWWeek

  • In the spotlight:

    Inclusion and Sustainability for African Growth Corridors

    SUSTAIN-Africa is an initiative aiming to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in African Growth Corridors.

    This new visual story shows how IUCN and partners are working on the ground, across different stakeholders and scales, to facilitate greening of growth that is inclusive and climate-resilient in Tanzania and Mozambique.  

    Click the title link for the full story, and share via our Twitter @IUCN_Water

  • In the spotlight:

    Champions of Water Governance

    A new IUCN Publication launched at the 8th World Water Forum - Leadership Building for Local to Transboundary Water Cooperation

    This thematic case study reviews the diverse experience of the ‘Champions’ component’ of BRIDGE in Mesoamerica, South America, in the Lower Mekong region and in the Lake Chad Basin, to examine the factors of success and draw lessons for future initiatives that may choose to rely on change makers to effect transformative change. 


  • Okavango Delta Photo: ©IUCN/Peter Howard

    World must act now to strengthen protection of most important wetlands


    An open letter from International Organization Partners of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: In July this year the United Nations reported that the world is off-track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) – ensuring the availability and...

  • RDP report cover photo Photo: @Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

    Rio Doce Panel report outlines critical gaps and measures for region’s long-term restoration


    Belo Horizonte, Brazil (IUCN) – Following one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters, the IUCN-led independent Rio Doce Panel released its first report, outlining critical gaps and measures that need to be addressed for the long-term restoration of the...

  • A fisherman checking his net, Cambodia Photo: Finn Thilsted, World Fish Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Water for fish: Sustainable inland fisheries


    Inland fisheries are being overlooked in policy, management and development decisions, undermining the vital food and livelihood benefits they provide to the poor – Conservation International and Co-chair of IUCN Species Survival Commission Freshwater...

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Learn more

Sugarcane grower, SUSTAIN Initiative, Tanzania Photo: Maria Ana Borges


Bridging water security and sustainable development. Building sustainable and inclusive growth to improve water and food security and climate resilience.


Cover: Women as change-makers Photo: ©IUCN Water

New report

Women as change-makers in the governance of shared waters


Bridge Map 2017 Photo: IUCN


BRIDGE - Building River Dialogue and Governance. This project aims to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus-building, in particular in transboundary river basins.


Wise Up Photo: © shutterstock Vladimir

WISE-UP to Climate

WISE-UP or 'Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem Services Underpinning Climate Resilient Policies and Programmes'


Quick reads

Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

Thumbnail_CC and Water issues brief Photo: IUCN

Water and climate change

Water and weather, the delicate balance between evaporation and precipitation, is the primary cycle through which climate change is felt. As our climate changes, droughts, floods, melting glaciers,...

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